Another session of discussion and debate sponsored by Temple Issues Forum last Thursday focused on the issue of grade inflation at Temple. From the Kiva Auditorium, Ritter Hall Annex, the program consisted of an hour-long debate between Temple Debate Team members and a discussion/forum featuring Temple staff.
Grade inflation is when student grades, for a given class, entire school etc., become higher while the amount of work, expectations and material stays the same or even goes lower.
Webster’s Dictionary defines grade inflation as “The awarding of higher grades than students deserve either to maintain a school’s academic reputation or as a result of diminished teacher expectations.”
During hour one the two, two person panels were asked to debate the question, “Should Temple take steps to combat grade inflation.” Of course, many other related questions ensued; a number of times forcing the discussion to veer.
In an attempt to find an explanation for grade inflation Omer Nawaz, on the “affirmative” panel suggested society in general is “addicted to a false sense of excellence.”
The reliance upon, and current questioning of the SAT’s validity as a fair and plausible tool for measuring and predicting academic success, was another related issue. Newaz asked the “negative” panel if a higher SAT score would reflect a higher GPA in college.
Angie Weeks answered positively, but added the equation was theoretically relative to the amount of work and effort shown by a student.
Ndidi Anyaegbunam, agreeing that Temple should take action, stated that departments sometimes benefit from grade inflation, and publishing class/department grades would counter this problem.
She went on to say that publishing would give students an incentive not to seek out easy classes, “restoring dignity and integrity [to grades].” On the same issue an audience member commented that she understood department funding to be dependent upon the number of students in a given major. She went on to call grade inflation “useful” to departments in order to gain students and funding.
Anyaegbunam was posed with the question, “How do you feel about the different levels of class work in relation to grade inflation?” She answered, “Students are reporting they’re doing less work (about one hour a night), but grades are going up.”
The second hour featured a similar setting of two, two person panels, but consisting of Temple faculty. Many panelists cited their past experiences to reason the importance and explanations for grade inflation.
Dieter Forster, Director of University Honors, remarked on his past and present experience in mathematics. By his account pre-calculus wasn’t offered at any US college thirty-three years ago, while a few years later it was offered as a non-credit course, and has moved downhill since.
Forster claimed that “earlier it was expected for students to have a good understanding of pre-calculus upon entering college].” However, Susan Albertine, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies, disagreed, saying, “We expect more now in mathematics (than in the seventies).”
Though it was unanimously agreed that grade inflation was not a problem specific to Temple, but rather abundant in national academia. Grade inflation at Temple was not cited a different or separate from the problems of other universities.